Posted by Editoress on 02/15/09
Our coverage ot the Amgen Tour of California made possible with the support of Shimano
Foul weather at the Amgen Tour of California seems to inspire some riders. Last year it was Dominique Rollin in a solo break along the Pacific Coast Highway into howling wind and rain. This year it was a magnificent start-to-finish breakaway effort by Spaniard Francisco Mancebo on the Rock Racing squad, that netted him the Yellow, Points and Climber's jerseys. Jurgen Van de Walle (Quick Step) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) managed to bridged up to Mancebo on the finishing circuit, but the Spaniard rode them off his wheel in the final sprint.
The weather was so bad, that the decision was made on the road to take the GC time as of the first time the riders passed the finish line (with the laps being raced for stage positions only). This meant that some riders, such as Levi Leipheimer, dropped back from the first chase group on the finishing circuit (but did not hurt GC standing), while others such as Van de Walle and Nibali moved up to take stage spots (but not move up in GC standing). It also delayed the results coming out for over four hours.
The wind and rain that forecasters had promised did not fail to deliver, with the riders starting in a cold downpour. While the conditions slacked off occasionally, the rain never abated, and was actually flooding the roads in places. The temperature never went above mid-single digits (Celcius), and it proved to be too much for Yellow Jersey holder Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), who pulled out by the halfway point, with the team citing a fever that the Olympic champion had developed overnight.
Mancebo, despite hailing from a warm country, seemed to have little problems with the conditions, attacking almost as soon as the neutral section ended. He quickly built up a two minute lead, before Tim Johnson (Ouch) and David Kemp (Fly V Australia) managed to bridge up. The trio rode together over the first Category 4 KoM and, by the base of the more significant Category 2 second climb were 12 minutes up.
This was too much for the big teams behind, and Astana, Team Columbia, Rabobank and others went to the front, with Canada's Michael Barry (Team Columbia) putting in big efforts on the flats. Mancebo decided that it would be better to ditch his companions, and jumped away at the base of the climb. Johnson tried to chase over the climb, but was still reeled in by a selected chase group on the descent.
Astana had Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Christopher Horner and Jose Luis Rubiera. Saxo Bank were represented by Andy Schleck and Jens Voigt, Thomas Lovkvist and Michael Rogers for Team Columbia, David Zabriskie and Tom Danielson (Garmin - Slipstream), Kevin Seeldraeyers and Van De Walle (Quick Step), Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema (Rabobank), Ivan Basso (Liquigas), Nibali, Floyd Landis, Rory Sutherland and Jonathan McCarty (Ouch p/b Maxxis), plus Oscar Sevilla watching things for Rock Racing.
This was clearly the Astana train, and they pulled Mancebo back to just over a minute by the start of the three finishing circuits in Santa Rosa. The momentum of the group was disrupted when Nibali and Van de Walle attacked, and managed to bridge up to Mancebo. Horner and Armstrong kept the pace going, but the lead trio still finished over a minute up on the chasers. Landis' bad luck continued, with a flat tire knocking him out of the chase group before the finishing circuit, so he is now 29th at 5:08.
Top Canadians were Dom Rollin (Cervelo), Svein Tuft (Garmin-Slipstream) and Will Routley (Jelly Belly), who all finished with the main peloton, 5:06 back, with Michael Barry rolling in with the next group at 13:38.
Tomorrow the race starts early in Sausalito, at 8:30 am local time (11:30 am EST), and begins with the unprecedented closure of the Golden Gate Bridge for the peloton. After this, the riders head down the coast, with a couple of significant climbs before finishing in Santa Cruz. Rain is expected once again.
|Stage 1: Davis to Santa Rosa, 173.2 km|
|1 Francisco Mancebo (Esp) Rock Racing||4:35:19*|
|2 Jurgen van de Walle (Bel) Quick Step|
|3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas|
|4 Steve Morabito (Sui) Astana|
|5 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana|
|6 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana|
|7 Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Quick Step|
|8 Christopher Horner (USA) Astana|
|9 Oscar Sevilla (Esp) Rock Racing|
|10 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank|
|30 Dominique Rollin (Can) Cervelo Test Team|
|49 Will Routley (Can) Jelly Belly Cycling Team|
|50 Svein Tuft (Can) Garmin - Slipstream|
|68 Michael Barry (Can) Team Columbia - Highroad|
|1 Francisco Mancebo (Esp) Rock Racing||4:11:07|
|2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana||1:07|
|3 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia - Highroad|
|4 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank|
|6 Steve Morabito (Sui) Astana|
|7 Oscar Sevilla (Esp) Rock Racing|
|8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas|
|9 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank|
|10 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana||all s.t.|
|26 Dominique Rollin (Can) Cervelo Test Team||5:06|
|31 Svein Tuft (Can) Garmin - Slipstream|
|59 Will Routley (Can) Jelly Belly Cycling Team||both s.t.|
|68 Michael Barry (Can) Team Columbia - Highroad||13:38|